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Navigating Recovery and Embracing Support on the Path to Wellness

In this deeply personal narrative, Jill C. shares her challenging journey with alcoholism intertwined with mental health disorders, including Major Depressive Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, PTSD, and Borderline Personality Disorder. Her story begins in middle school, marked by bullying and an upbringing in an emotionally distant, alcohol-free home.

Despite these challenges, Jill’s journey transforms into one of recovery and hope, detailing her path towards sobriety and mental wellness. This is not just a personal account but a beacon of encouragement for others facing similar struggles, emphasizing the importance of professional help, the support of Alcoholics Anonymous, and the strength found in vulnerability and seeking assistance.

I suffer from what Bill W called “grave and emotional mental disorders.”…

My diagnoses include Major Depressive Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Borderline Personality Disorder. Having mental health diagnoses does not doom a person to alcoholism, but it certainly does go hand in hand. I will recover from these, and alcoholism, so long as I continue to be rigorously honest with my fellows, and most importantly, with myself.  This is my story of alcoholism and mental health. My hope is that by sharing my story my readers will find the courage and strength to share their own and seek professional help where needed.

My story with depression began in middle school, as I was often the target end of bullying by my classmates. I grew up in an alcohol-free home with emotionally unavailable parents whose best advice was to pull myself up by the bootstraps and just ignore them. This was not the best advice because I had learned to hide my emotions and bury them. My upbringing was not horrible by any means, as they did parent me in the best way they knew how. My opportunity now is to be an agent of change as I parent and bring up my own children, being more emotionally available and understanding, while also giving them the tools they need to handle difficult situations, people, and life.

My story with alcohol began once I graduated from high school. I had stayed sober throughout high school to honor my parents. I fell behind my peers when I finally did drink, so much so that I dove in with both feet, with no hesitation or thought into what the consequences would be. I had catching up to do.

Sophomore year at Thanksgiving, all this changed. I was a victim of sexual assault by someone I thought I was safe with, after drinking alcohol that was laced with Rohypnol, the date rape drug better known as Rufies. For 25 years, I tried to drink this memory away. It was certainly an unhealthy coping mechanism, but it became the only skill I used until I addressed my alcoholism. There have been many challenges in my life that I dealt with using alcohol. Each time, I fell further and further into alcoholism as I tried to drown these memories from existence. Not once did it ever make anything better, and yet that obsession was so strong that I felt compelled to continue drinking.  

In the last three years, I made some changes and finally sought professional help

…with psychiatrists, counselors, and outpatient programs to try and learn new healthier ways of coping.  It was a year and a half in when I also decided, with encouragement from counselors and family, and a strong suggestion from my psychiatrist, to put the bottles and cans away, and join Alcoholics Anonymous.

Today I am 19 months sober, looking ahead at the 2-year mark. I have not completely recovered from either, as I still have unhealthy coping mechanisms to hide my pain, like cutting, overdosing on medications, and suicide attempts. But I refuse to stop fighting! By seeking outside help for my mental health disorders and being an active member in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous, I take more steps in the right direction each day towards recovery. Asking for help is a sign of strength and has become co-dependent with my recovery from alcoholism.

I encourage my fellow alcoholics with stories like mine to seek professional help

…to learn how to better cope with your demons, which in turn will make you less dependent on chemicals. Alcoholism and Mental Health are co-occurring disorders. Neither you can fully recover from on your own, so loosen up your grip (as in stop white knuckling it), talk to your fellows and your primary care provider to get connected to community resources. I’m grateful I asked for help after all those years, and I will surely keep the habit of reaching out foremost in my mind. Life can be brutal, but it is manageable with the right tool set.

Jill C.

One response to “Navigating Recovery and Embracing Support on the Path to Wellness”

  1. Ashley Hughes Avatar
    Ashley Hughes

    This was sensational. Thank you for sharing this with us.
    Love you

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